Chess: The Sixty Four Stratagems.

Chess: The Sixty Four Stratagems.

| 13 | Other

Chess: The Sixty Four Stratagems.


“The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the

Universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature

and the player on the other side is hidden from us”

Thomas Huxley.


I like to play chess; rather I like to imagine playing chess, without pieces.  Not manoeuvring physical piece’s with my hands or viewing them as a section of material, instead;  I try and picture the pieces as levels of society, groups of individuals binding together to fight a common enemy; A collection of like minded ideas.

The pawns are the peon’s; Knights are soldiers etc, Each piece with ideas that are effected by restrictions, usually the pieces collective beliefs, or its environment.

Chess is classically and most beautifully a strategic battle of confliction, a proposed agreement to start and finish a war between two opponents.  The prize being, of course, satisfaction for the ego.  War is the soup and its ingredients are affections of the ego, aiding in the desire for a war to begin. 


Greed for power, lust for revenge, pride to defend. 


But ideas need forum and every war needs land, giving birth to the chess board, a clean cut section of the earth for our battle rage.  The boundaries of the chess board offer limitation and out side of the squares, nothing but the omniscient ideas of ego can effect what happens inside.  There is no space out side to give birth to time, or any need to occupy it.  Any importance is bordered by an eternity of meaningless, where the idea’s of the pieces cannot reach and are Pyrrhic regardless.  The board, if limited to one square, would offer a spatial freedom that would cause to much free will of movement.  Every thing on the planet follows rules of time and external limits of the movement that it restricts. 

There-for individual sections of the board are split into sixty four (64) squares.  Eight (8) horizontal rows, Eight (8) vertical columns. The sixty four squares alternate between dark colours and light colours, usually white and black. This karma-ism is Ying and Yang, and comparative to dualism of body and mind, good and evil.  The squares are the place for ideas to occupy, the files and ranks a system for the ideas to manifest. 


The ideas we have as the controllers, and the piece’s benefits and limitations, dance in contrast or control to the tactics of the enemy.  Strategies including the reinforcement and defence of ideas are implemented to reduce the opponents conflicting beliefs.  The greed to continue living by destruction feeds the fundamental schematics of the game.  Choices made in every move, offensive, neutral or defensive, are eventually in aid of a duel intention.  To survive and consequently destroy the enemy.  This is achieved by check mate. A position in which any “idea” the mated king makes; will subsequently end in his demise. 


Using aforementioned elements, it would make sense to agree that the capturing of a piece is the suppression of an opposing idea.  These captures are a forced conformation into the ideas of the capturing piece.  Perhaps understanding that instead of loosing pieces, the square in which the capture takes place is an idea that becomes revolutionised by the opponent, and either becomes irrelevant, or connected to the succussing idea.   

The square never stays tarnished, never covered with blood or remembered as the game proceeds.  The space is just a collection of time and space that forms an environment enabling a connection of ideas. 


However, this is really just how I would like to think of chess, because my mind has too much reference to born any individual ideas.  War and a pre-disposition to life and modern science affect the control of my doctrine; and the honesty of lost is the only reason to ever try to win anything. 


The following are my interpretations of the pieces in a format relevant to the social and economic value of their wooden carved doppelgangers. I’m just trying to use my opinions in an attempt to understand the conceptual characteristics of grouped pieces, their moves and how their personalities affect others and the collective environment.


The Pawn – Phesants in Union.


The Pawn is in essence the very partisan of every society.  The Pawn entails every section of the working class and voting public, ranging from Agricultural Unions or Community based sections; too educational factions and produce merchants.  The Pawn is the population which the King will govern, but not necessarily control. The pawns are valued as one denomination out of a possible nine. They make up more of a percentage in numbers than any other piece and effectively take up the entire row in front of the king and collective other pieces.


“In war the heroes always outnumber the soldiers ten to one.”

John Gay, Poet.


The pawn can only move forward one square, as their strength is not in individual brute force, however upon first movement, the Pawn has the ability to proceed a further single square.  This is typical of the irrationality of a society to enter war, even if that means leaving the power of the government/Hierarchy un-defended and often exposed.  In a nice contrast, the king will never proceed to war with out the backing of his people, even if the decision is forced and no real choice has been issued.


“To sacrifice, what we are, for what we can become”


 Pawns will only ever move consistently forward and have a sacrificial air to them selves.  They are the front line of attack at the beginning of the battle and are almost deemed an expendability due to their numbers, which is a sordid reflection of conscription and infantries.  A farmer has little choice but to continue once the decision is made to abandon his territorial home and proceed to war, yet their power is limited, alike their vision.  While the flow of the Pawn is vertical, its captures are only accessible to its faced diagonal left or right.  This swing of ideas or chaos is the real power of an unorganised rabble.  It is the overwhelming waves that pawns offer that gives the ego the strongest form of defence and preservation. 


"In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep."

Hunter S Thompson - The Great Shark Hunt, 1979


Using a collection of Pawns to gather in a zigzag pack will offer protection to each other, using a knee jerk reaction attack; you slay my brother – I will slay you.  It is this counter attack protection that gives strength to the Pawn, which is only as valuable (or expendable) as its ideas make it.  A pawn will just as easily assassinate the king if he can get close enough.  A relevant unique detriment to the pawn is a movement named “en pasant”, in which a defending player can punish a weak farmer who has dwelled or debated war for to long.  By staying to far back the pawn which is captured by en passant has limited ideas and is easily capitalized by stronger, more authoritative pieces. The only character able to break the front line of peon’s before a pawn moves is the Knight.  This is due to an acquired ability of “jumping” other characters and a royal authority from the king as a figure head of war, but that will be discussed later. 


If a pawn is ever able to proceed across the entire board with out death, he has proven him self an above average warrior and is promoted and bestowed more power, like a war hero.  Regardless of the contention of his country, the promotion is still both viable and valuable.  It is almost as if the unions fight for victory has inspired his men and gains that extra desire for blood and control.  The final test of the over worked family man is to survive the usual sweeping attack from the oppositions castle or queen.  In the case of the Pawns demise, the capture of the union is a sweeter fruit to the enemy and will often recoil as a revolutionized inspiration.  The pain of death heightens more when the unification of something miniscule is squashed as it peaks.  I do believe that Pawns are less imminent to danger from churches due to the lateral and static reasoning of pawns as opposed to the subversive and angled approach of the Bishop.  It is however ironic that both capture on their diagonal.  The pawn is a symbolic reminder to the desperation and strength of community in times of war. 


Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.

William S. Burroughs


The pawns attack is weak because of limitations to wealth, aid from its government and the over bearing strength of those that it opposes.  Like the great wars, it is not uncommon, for an end board to be almost void of any pawn pieces, unless a mate was made early by a forceful and intelligent strategic attack from the ego.  An exception perhaps being a row of three pawns protecting the king using a special procedure called castling. These un-motivated and idealess pawns form this wall as a sacrificial barrier to defend the king, perhaps milling around the land to preserve the agriculture and keep the king well fed in his castle.


“A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.”

Aldous Huxley



The Knight – The royalty of war.


 The Knight is a forceful character whose rules of engagement are un-paralleled by any other pieces.  His “L’ shape attack represents a constrained but specific choice of attack; with disregard for the restrictions other pieces must follow, by enabling him to leap other fractions.  His ideas of movement are initially a strong and progressive approach with a late snap attack.  The knight is the embodiment of arms, war and controlled aggression.  He is a warrior, following a code of ethics, a boshido if you will, as a lot of the Knights characteristics breath honour. 


"Let not princes complain of the faults committed by the people subjected to their authority, for they result entirely from their own negligence or bad example."

NiccolòMachiavelli Book III, Chapter XXIX


Take for example his ability to enter war before any other piece, with out the initiation of the pheasants.  An oppositions king can be checked, even if an opposing (or defending) piece stands between them.  The “jumping” of pieces shows the determination and dedication to the passion of blood lust.  As a commander however, pride breeds contempt and irrationality.  Almost with a suicidal abandon a rook will attack another rook in a mutual battle, every time a knight attacks another knight the attack is responsive and mutual.


The trooper, in the first place, must be able to spring on horseback easily—a feat to which many a man has owed his life ere now. And next, he must be able to ride with freedom over every sort of ground, since any description of country may become the seat of war.

The Cavalry General.  Xenophon


A Knight is portrayed physically as a horse, this is relative to the devastating strength of mobility and surprise of its movement.   As if the first two squares of the L are the gallop of the horse, and the third snap the strike of the Knights blade, the animal and human elements of pacifism and rage.  Obviously the opening of the war will differ and depend greatly on the position of the knights.  A good soldier will use to his advantage centrifugal sections of the board in order to be effective over a wide area.  He will also gallantly defend other pieces from afar and obscure regions.      


“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”
Charles Spurgeon


The Knight is the most melancholy of pieces.  He is literally your war horse; his involvements in the conscious universe of the chess board and its comparison to social economics are only of blood and honour. There is no reason for the Knight to battle, or to exist, aside his loyalty to King and Country.  The knight worships war, relishes in its feasibility, in the madness of victory. I wouldn’t say ruthless, rather impassive or pre-schema. 





The Castle – Rock and a hard place.


Stone, Mortar and fused structure; The castle is a literal corner stone of war and the essence of a strategical prospect to attack and both defence.  I imagine the castle to be symbolism of a political rally point used for propaganda, to strike concern and impose mentally.  Picture the “Bourtangestar fort” or, Ávila- the city walls of Spain.”  Fortification implemented to both the body and mind of the oppressor and oppressed. 


Law 1:7 Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene


It is limited early in the game as it stands behind it people, the pheasants who maintain and build these structures of war.  Unless carefully planned, the castle can be stuck behind the frontal pawn until it is captured, or until the pawn attacks and subsequently changes file.  Alike the king, it needs both the backing of its people and the mass hysteria for propaganda to work efficiently.  A castle in motion is vicious and philanderers, the proverbial rolling stone.   While even in not an aggressive phase a castle has the ability to control an entire row or file with its intent.  These political ideologies suggest why the castle rates, again out of a possible nine (9), five (5) which is two points stronger than rooks or bishops. 


The ability to “castle” using an independent, and combinative move with the king, offers a more protective side to the castles aggressive nature.  Using the three peons as a wall the castle may swap positions with the king, garrisoning him in a protective fortification, behind and enclosed by a sanction of ideas.  This can only be done if either piece has not committed to any other move before hand,  or if there is any direct political turmoil (in check).  This is to ensure that the decision is pre meditated and a “saved” decision, which also takes time and effort to create.  While this offers a substantial amount of protection it is not with out its downfalls, like all links and any chains.  This situation can either be positive or negative, which may;


  1. Inhibit the movement of the castle, pawns and king.
  2. Enables the castle to move from the corner of the board to a more lateral/central position for attack.  In turn leaving the king vulnerable to attack and consequent check mate.  This is the siege, where oppositions attack plunders the pawns using more than one piece, capturing the king using his limitations of movement.
  3. Frees time for other ideas of pieces to move while leaving the King “inside his castle”.

In the castling formation it is polite to imagine the pawns as an economic or market place, which runs to supply the king with goods and wares.  Immature; but polite none the less. 


"Doubtless these means [of attaining power] are cruel and destructive of all civilized life, and neither Christian nor even human, and should be avoided by every one. In fact, the life of a private citizen would be preferable to that of a king at the expense of the ruin of so many human beings."

Niccolò Machiavelli Book I, Chapter XXVI


The head on boulder of a castles moves and his ability to dominate rows and files by simply occupying a square further demonstrate the mental imposition it has over the physical attributes to the enemies pieces.  If you cut off the head, the body will soon perish.


“Therefore one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful. Seizing the enemy without fighting is the most skillful.”

Sun Zu, Art of war.


The Bishop – Doctrine of Monotheism.


The bishop is the hierarchy of any movement involving the church and organised religion.  If history has relevance to any thing in this piece, its that no man fights with such vigour and stamina than when they are fighting for God. Fighting for purpose and forgiveness. While the church, as a unit, remain mostly neutral to war, it’s in the beliefs that they breed, that succumb man to forge battle. 


“Religion is the human response to being alive and having to die.”

F. Forrester Church


The Bishop there fore as a piece; becomes, alike the castle, a figure head of authority.  The funny thing about the bishop is his ability to always be in trouble, or to trouble another.  The ideas will always clash using that diagonal form of thinking, the direct and continues path to the borders of the board.  The most interesting thing about the church is its correlation to its twin piece.  As a pair the churches can occupy any coloured square on the board, the white square bishop and the black squared bishop.  The two colours are symbolic to the public awareness of the average god fearing society and the radical fractions of religious belief’s (ie. Eastern Terrorism.)  As a united front the pair is infinitely more powerful.  In which I mean more people are affected by the actions that their beliefs create and the propaganda that ensues.  This has, and always will be the true power of the church: monotheism.


The bishops flank the king and queen at the beginning of the game.  The country and the government have a majority religion and this is used to win elections and rally public support.  The bishop is both the right hand man to the king, the wieghty and structured organisation, and aligned to the lefty politics of the queen.  Once pawns move from either ahead the king or queen both divisions of the Bishops are openly free to enter the table at either far flanking rank of the board. 


“Religion and science both profess peace (and the sincerity of the professors is not being doubted), but each always turns out to have a dominant part in any war that is going or contemplated.”

Howard Nemerov


It is more valuable to have the churches in the centre of the board, like most pieces, To assure a both defensive and offensive contest.  Once the Bishop is pressed against the edges of the boards, its ideas are limited.  There is only so much that faith can ask, with out the proof of the ideas out side the board, some thing that is (to an inanimate object) unprovable.  For the Bishop to share the same capturing style as a Pawn, but not the same movement shows the similarities between the two.  Both are forms of a community consciousness and a collection of like minded individuals.  The difference in the length the similar pieces can move shows their differing strengths and willingness for the ideas the player makes.  The Bishops inability to ever reach the square directly in front of them of behind them is a sweet twist of irony.  The doctrine of the church, with their strict cemented beliefs, really limit a progression of ideas or comparative reflection to their past.    


The Bishop is easily lost at the times of war.  Not the Church, in its sense, but the idea of the church. 


The idea of war for reason is often lost in the battle, and the god that we long for, dies with the carelessness of the humanity it creates.







Queen: A heart Consort.


Ideas don’t relate to the queen, or the idea, that we are making them.  There is too much irrationality and swing to our “lady Macbeth”, with far too much impact in the hearts of our King. 


“Sex is interesting, but it's not totally important. I mean it's not even as important (physically) as excretion. A man can go seventy years without a piece of ass, but he can die in a week without a bowel movement.”

Charles Bukowski


Aside from the loss of a king, which is paradoxical in its self, there is no greater pain than the capture of a queen.   The Preciousness of the queen is made bitter sweet by the range of ideas she can implement.  She is strong with out comparison, her threat is felt across the entire board, and she is loved.


Perhaps the queen is the only piece on the board that does not have a social relation.  Yes, she has physical female kindred to the king, but perhaps the queen is more metaphorical than that.  The Queen to me represents the power, and loss, of emotion in the path of war.  The ability to be any where, at almost any time, only adds to my observations of her being a more “across the board” relation.  However, for arguments sake, let’s say the queen is a polar feminine to the masculine male, wouldn’t its social comparison be a Shakespearian comedy in the duality of the sexes.


“-Just as procreation depends on the duality of the sexes, involving perpetual strife with only periodic intervening reconciliations”

Nietzshe “Writings of (Basic)”


Again this family nucleus adds interesting meaning to the love of the Queen, for only by living inside another person, sharing the same shoes, anxiety and aspirations, can you understand the internal frustration of separation.  The queens loss speaks louder, in hindsight, than her impact on the game, she offers comfort to the overwhelming isolation of “being”.  The varying levels of narcissism and guilt that come with emotions for anyone.  A woman can often be the only forgiveness one can find in God, and how you going to forgive the Big Man if he takes that away?


“She's a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, Gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind…

“Killer Queen”, Queen.


Yet the queen symbolised as emotion offers more questions than simple sex references.  Is morality the choice to offer your neck in place of another? Is guilt knowing that the choice has to be made and refusing to do so? Is vanity the in between, the passive perseverance? If emotions have been fought with, and lost, will the battle’s victory be phyyric?  The Queen is an understanding of overwhelming power and infinite futility.  The Queen is the only reason wars should never start, let alone involve such fragile strength.



“She said, 'There is no reason; and the truth is plain to see.'  But I wandered through my playing cards, and would not let her be”

“Whiter shade of pale” – Procal Harrum



The King:


The kings are a hopeless existence of pity and choices made by others, arrested mostley by guilt and a search for comfort.  He is the entirety, the every thing, the King is you. 

The king is your life, your reason for the manifestation of ideas, the space that gives time the ability to occupy it.

“If a tree falls down in the woods and no one is around to hear it- does it make a sound?”

Ancient Chinese proverb


Any experience that the king will witness will be derived through an inter-connection with either a defending or opposing piece.  Decisions that the king will make independently are really only in vain attempt to better his position in an unprovoked situation.  His moves are heavy with the weight of the world, just single stomps in any direction, slowly trudging through the universe of squares.


He opens with a central most position, but his vision is hindered through the canopy of ideas ahead.  It’s this process that you must find personal, the irrepressible truth, that a King cannot directly check another king.  There is too little personal reflection in your ideas in connection with another “king” and to much obtrusion from every thing else.  Killing other pieces, and rhetorically; their ideas, isn’t necessary, it just makes things easier.  The less ideas with passions attached cause less rift for your freedom of thought.  Like jealousy, Like teenagers making fun of kids with pimples.


The Walrus and the Carpenter 
Were walking close at hand:
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

Lewis Carroll – Through The Looking Glass



As the Ego, the Omnicent, we are out side time and space.  It is some thing that we have created, some thing we have made with purpose and a unified understanding of rules with limitations, but a necessary free will, a necessary organised chaos.  And while the pieces may mill around, fighting for the right to carnal knowledge and expression of belief and ideology; the world stays the same.


But If I simply walk away from the game…


Nothing will happen but the mundane boredom that comes with out passion, and the cold stagnant time that passes with out a conscience to occupy it.  A thin slice of space and time, with out the love, or even an over the shoulder look, from a god who got sick of all this madness a long, long time ago.


“Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions, without occupation, without diversion, without effort. Then he feels his nullity, loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, emptiness."
Blaise Pascal, Pensees